A trader named Gar brings the Doctor's mobile emitter to a crowded hospital where he barters a price for the 'trinket' with Administrator Chellick. The Doctor's emitter is activated and protests his kidnapping. Injured patients arrive and the Doctor puts his emotions aside in order to treat them.
Back on Voyager Harry and Tom discover that the Doctor was kidnapped after a trip to sickbay. This makes Neelix uneasy, making him think he caused Gar to become sick from his cooking. Captain Janeway sets him at ease by telling him "it's not like your cooking turned him into a thief."
Back on the medical ship the Doctor converses with a miner named Tebbis. As the Doctor checks him he discovers that Tebbis has a chronic condition that has long been untreated when he asks Voje, a fellow doctor, it is explained that he doesn't have a high enough Treatment Coefficient, or TC.
Chellick returns and tells the Doctor that the allocator, the main computer, has decided he would be better utilized on Level Blue, the floor where the most important patients are kept. On the Blue level there is a doctor per patient as the Doctor is explained to that they have a higher TC, which determines what kind of treatment a person receives. A person's TC is based on a complicated formula that determines a person's value to society.
Voyager tries to track down Gar which leads them through several angry aliens that claim they have all been swindled by the same trader.
The Doctor becomes angry on Level Blue when he finds a nurse giving a shot of cytoglobin to a healthy patient. He is told it is a preventative measure to stop arterial aging. The Doctor is upset because the same injection would help save Tebbis from dying. Dysek explains to the Doctor that if Tebbis' TC was higher he would receive more adequate treatment. Later, the Doctor tells a nurse that a patient requires an addition cytoglobin shot. The Doctor takes this to Level Red and gives it to Tebbis, and with his help, distributes it to other level red patients. Tebbis also asks to not be declared well so he can stay and get medical training instead of being sent back to the mines. The Doctor tells him that he does not plan to stay in the hospital ship long enough to train him but tells him he will try to arrange something.
Voyager finds Gar's ship and drops out of warp to capture him. Gar claims he knows nothing about the Doctor and tries to escape their tractor beam by using a feedback pulse. Janeway decides to have him beamed to the brig.
Mean while, Chellick tells the Doctor that Tebbis has been transferred to Level White, the morgue. Chellick discovers The Doctor's scheme to help Level Red patients and he is restricted to Level Blue and his time is strictly controlled by the allocator on a minute to minute basis.
On Voyager, Tuvok is getting nowhere with Gar and threatens him with a mind meld. Neelix feeds Gar a meal made with Talaxian wormroot, he adds as an afterthought that he hopes Gar doesn't react to it badly with abdominal spasms that could prove to be quite painful. Neelix says that there is an antidote but unfortunately the Doctor is not there to administer it.
As he treats patients on Level Blue, the Doctor asks Voje to take his mobile emitter to Level Red. When Chellick finds the Doctor working on level Red he decides to have him deactivated. The Doctor instead injects Chellick with the cromovirus and blood from Tebbis, stating that he was going to make Chellick a patient in his own hospital. The Doctor says he wants cytoglobin to be distributed among the patients on Level Red.
Voyager finds the Doctor's program but B'lanna is unable to retrieve him because he is locked in with the main computer. When the hospital ship is hailed the allocator gives an automated response saying that only Administrator Chellick can speak with him and that he is unavailable.
Chellick demands that he be given cytoglobin but Dysek tells him that he can't because Level Red patients aren't authorized to be given cytoglobin. The Doctor tells Chellick that if he was transferred to Level Blue along with other patients from Level Red that he could be treated with an authorized dose of cytoglobin. Chellick approves this decision as B'lanna and Chakotay beam onto the ship.
The Doctor tells Seven of Nine that she is perfectly healthy after he scans her. Then he asks Seven to perform a scan on his program. She reports that everything is functioning fine. The Doctor then requests her to look into his ethical subroutines, asking if he had acted erratically back on the hospital ship by knowingly infecting Chellick. Seven tells him a piece of Borg philosophy that the loss of one for the greater good is worth the sacrifice; she then declares that his ethical subroutines are in perfect order.